Among people who take writing seriously, who realize that it's work, the default responses range from weak encouragement to discreet eyerolling. If you're looking for a more substantive response, it's likely to be a sincere wish that all the attention for NaNoWriMo could be directed at, say, funding the sort of community-college creative writing workshops that might actually employ people who take writing seriously.
In the short term, though, sympathetic teasing or mockery dominate the reactions. (I asked for a blurb from a published author I know — one who both participated in NaNoWriMo and who is patient enough to have enjoyed teaching high school — and even his politely begging off contained the concession that it yields a lot of terrible work as well as people who take it way too seriously and start self-identifying as "Author.") NaNoWriMo pieces tend toward self-insertion fan-fic, the genre-heavy and stereotypical. There are girls rewriting the story of their doomed college relationship; only this time it works out. There are boys turning themselves into crime-fighters who have sex. Where the sexes meet, there are wizards and aliens and monocled men in morning coats with pneumatic arms getting down to lovemaking in the Babbage-Omicron Zeppelin.
With luck, this goes some way to explaining how a bunch of strangers wound up spending a day on Twitter writing "#NaNoWriMoOpeners" at each other. It's a great format for trading one-line jokes, and NaNoWriMo is just weird and silly enough to permit almost any one-liner to seem plausible. Because of the ephemeral and badly coded nature of Twitter, I've reprinted mine below and taken the liberty of reprinting a few others that I feel reasonably secure I won't offend anyone by sharing here. Because I didn't hear from the vast majority of people who were in on the joke at the time, I've omitted their tweets. Anyone who wants to be included is welcome to email me with a list of their favorites or post them in the comments.
One last thing: an interesting side effect of making "#NanoWriMoOpeners" jokes is that it automatically reduced the number of characters everyone had to work with to 122 per tweet. (I deleted that hashtag from the reprints below; reading it repeatedly was annoying.) In a sense, as much as people were busting on it, trying to establish a concept and a gag in 122 characters is probably just the sort of inspired and discipline-inducing exercise the National Novel Writing Month creators would probably enjoy. The best part is, none of those ideas required anyone to labor for 30 days over a doomed exercise; nor did it require any of their friends or loved ones to read it.
National Novel Writing Month Opening Lines
Quarterback Tim Tebow smelled burning flesh, and knew it was his own.
Dale was the first one to tell you that the worst part of working for the CDC was always figuring out who dealt it.
RT @AGentleBrees: "Let's take turns kissing each other," said Bowser to Dr. House, except black.
Hanging his head, Jayden deleted the last remaining Tonic fanpage on Geocities. The rest of his life had just begun.
RT @woodmuffin: If I was going to nab Gary Glitter, I'd have to catch him in Istanbul. Nothing was more appealing to him than Asia Minor
"Well," said Isis, holding her hand mirror so she could look at her own vagina, "this monologue ain't gonna write itself."
Once again, nobody had joined Rockwell's live webcam, and he was crying.
"Aw shit!" said God, poking through his stash when he was about to create Man. "This shit's all stem cells and seeds."
We beat on, boats against the direct current, because that fucker Edison totally hosed Tesla. Have you read Howard Zinn?
Few people were surprised when a wizard gave cats the gift of speech and all of their first words were, "Fuck you, lady."
For years he had studied the aromas to Andrea Kremer's panties. That's how he knew she was ill. And now he had to tell her
RT @woodmuffin: "Papa," the wooden boy asked, "why was I built?" But the Geppedophile looked away, ridden with guilt
Tyler knew in his heart that heaven was a place where Maynard would return his calls and even let him drive the van.
Unbeknownst to a man with a huge penis, there was a japanese schoolgirl with big breasts hiding in the teleporter with him
United States Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) could smell poop on a man's dick and knew it was his own.
"Social welfare is theft; theft is a disease," said Jefferson. Franklin replied: "I'm the cure," then cocked his shotgun.
He'd never thought he'd be in this position but he was about to find out if that asshole Bruce Hornsby could take a punch.
The 1st genie wish was easy: meet Carrie Bradshaw. But for wishes #2 & 3 she would require schematics of the Enterprise-D.
He flashed her an Unobtanium smile & handed over a plastic bladder of Courvoisier. "So, have you ever fucked in zero-OG?"
RT @SRN_lol: Pancho Villa, Sam Bowie, Han Solo, Indiana Jones... the list is endless. The list of men I've killed, that is.
November 14, 2010 6:04:42 PM EST via web
It was a bright Caturday in April and the clocks were striking moar-thirty...
"Hey, it works!" he shouted, flexing his numb fingers. "It really DOES feel like a stranger!"
They should have destroyed all the copies, because now Bonzer had proof who'd forced the government to criminalize weed.
This is the true story of a simple man who found a time machine & singlehandedly reversed the fortunes of the Chicago Cubs
After 22 years, he would finally tomahawk jam on the President. What he didn't know: would Avery get to the bomb in time?
"Great, isn't that always the way?" he thought. High school Senior Picture Day, and he woke up covered in morgellons.
"In the Kangaroos!" Lace Slider had looked his whole life for the Secret Constitution. Now: money, it's gotta be the shoes
He was having the dream again, the one where he was Yoshi.
My name is Cleric Jason & I've chosen to remain a virgin since I began secondary school and learned the purity of Gunkata
RT @SRN_lol: "A dragon is nothing more than a series of tubes," said professor Gomer, "Tubes filled with immortality juice."
November 14, 2010 5:18:39 PM EST via web
Vapelander Derrick placed ten singles on the table. "I'll remove one for every error you make," he told the coffee vampire
RT @SRN_lol: The puissant king hurled decrees like daggers at Sir Cromwell who nodded grimly and grasped his magic sword of steam.
November 14, 2010 5:17:13 PM EST via web
"Happy Warcraft guilds are all alike; every unhappy guild is unhappy in its own way. Take this guy Jim, who never grinds."
bell hooks lay back and slowly opened her legs, revealing her divine, damp femininity. Roethlisberger, helmeted, nodded.
"Ephebophilia is a sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, ages 15 to 19," he explained "It's a different desire."
RT @woodmuffin: Yancy grabbed his cheeks and prepared to yank upwards. If there was ever a time to pull off ones own face, this was it
November 14, 2010 7:16:42 PM EST via web
When he'd first designed the Batmobile, Bruce Wayne never stopped to consider how hard it would be to find air filters.
If Erica hadn't dogeared every word that could mean "penis" in the English-French dictionary, she wouldn't be alive today.
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of ass struggle," said Karla Marx, shopping for bluejeans.